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U.S. Airdrops Weapons to Kurds Defending Kobani

Kurdish fighters have been trying to keep ISIS from taking the Syrian town of Kobani for several weeks, and on Sunday the U.S. announced it had airdropped lethal aid to the rebels for the first time, Reuters reports. The 27 bundles dropped by three U.S. C-130 transport aircraft contained weapons, ammunition and medical supplies. "There was an urgent need to resupply," said a senior Obama administration official. "This was the quickest way to get the job done." President Obama notified Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the U.S. would be conducting drops, though Turkey opposes arming the rebel groups it considers terrorists. While the U.S. says the 135 airstrikes it conducted near the town on the Turkish border have slowed ISIS, it warned that Kobani may still fall.

First Round of U.S. Ebola Contacts Are Officially Disease-Free

There hasn't been much good news in the fight against Ebola, but on Sunday there were several encouraging reports. According to the BBC, the Spanish nurse who was the first person to contract Ebola outside of West Africa has tested negative for the virus (a second test is required before she'll be officially free of the disease). And the United States has reached an important milestone: the 21-day monitoring period for the 48 people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola in Dallas, ended on Sunday and Monday. Aside from the two nurses who cared for him, there have been no new infections.

At least 149 people are still being monitored. »

Nazi War Criminals Expelled from the U.S. Still Collect Social Security

According to an Associated Press report that could serve as the inspiration for a far less exciting follow up to Inglourious Basterds, the Justice Department persuaded Nazi war criminals to leave the United States quickly and quietly by allowing them to continue receiving Social Security payments. In 1979, the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations was tasked with forcing Nazis who immigrated after World War II out of the country. The deportation process could take up to 10 years, so OSI allegedly bargained with the suspects, pointing out that due to a legal loophole they could keep their Social Security benefits if they fled to another country and renounced their citizenship before being deported.

Over the years, they've received millions in Social Security. »

Brooklyn Man Charged With Beating His 3-Year-Old Stepdaughter to Death

A 3-year-old girl was beaten to death and her 5-year-old brother was injured late on Saturday in a Bushwick homeless shelter apartment. On Sunday 20-year-old Kelsey Smith, who recently married the children's mother, was charged with felony assault and acting in a manner injurious to a child less than 17 years old. According to the New York Times, investigators believe that Smith was watching Jeida and Andrew Torres while their mother was at work, and began hitting the 3-year-old because she soiled her pants. When police responded to a 911 call, Jeida was unconscious and unresponsive, with bruises all over her body, and Smith was nowhere to be found.

Smith's uncle claims he was trying to discipline her. »

Kelli Stapleton Can’t Forgive Herself for Trying to Kill Her Violent, Autistic Daughter. Can You?

Just before Labor Day 2013, Issy was coming home. Her mother, Kelli, had ordered a big chocolate cake—Issy’s favorite. Kelli and Issy’s two siblings had collected all the TEAM ISSY posters friends and family had made during the seven months Issy had been away at Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research in Portage, Michigan, and mounted them on a couple of giant boards. Kelli told people she was “really excited” to have Issy home again and that she had discovered during her daughter’s time away that while it was hard to live with Issy, she just couldn’t live without her either. “I want her back in bed,” Kelli would say. “I want all three of my babies back home.” But during the three-hour drive to pick up Issy, Kelli texted her friend Vickie Slater: “I’m scared.” 

“Can I do anything to help?” Vickie asked. 

 “Trade kids with me,” Kelli joked.

As they said good-bye at the center, some of the staff cried. Great Lakes specializes in treating autistic children who show severe aggression toward other people or themselves. Issy, then 14, had been one of its first students and was, for a while, the only girl. (Both autism and aggression skew male.) The center, which treats about a dozen kids at a time, uses positive reinforcement to get aggressive behaviors under control. Issy would receive tokens, at first, for every two minutes she kept her hands quiet; every half-hour, she could trade them at the “Issy store” for things she liked. The program worked; Issy had performed, Kelli told me, like a “rock star.” But after seven months, the insurance company wanted to stop funding the treatment. Issy’s bad behaviors had spiked a little, which the insurance company interpreted to mean the program was no longer working; the center said it was a natural response to teaching Issy to interact again with her family, which it does toward the end of each child’s stay. At first, Kelli was prepared to fight, but then she changed her mind and decided Issy should come home in time for the school year. She felt the center had started paying less attention to Issy once a second girl came in and that she would be better off at her local school, where she could work on the presidents and the state capitals and real math and stay, academically, at grade level. Issy wanted to come home, too. For days, she had been saying, “Issy comes home on August 30. Issy will go to Frankfort-Elberta schools. Issy will sleep in Issy’s bed. No more Great Lakes.”

“We see the sign on the gate that says WELCOME HOME ISSY and she’s so damned happy.” »

Marc Andreessen on Why Optimism Is Always the Safest Bet

It’s not hard to coax an opinion out of Marc Andreessen. The tall, bald, spring-loaded venture capitalist, who invented the first mainstream internet browser, co-founded Netscape, then made a fortune as an early investor in Twitter and Facebook, has since become Silicon Valley’s resident philosopher-king. He’s ubiquitous on Twitter, where his machine-gun fusillade of bold, wide-ranging proclamations has attracted an army of acolytes (and gotten him in some very big fights). At a controversial moment for the tech industry, Andreessen is the sector’s biggest cheerleader and a forceful advocate for his peculiar brand of futurism.

"There’s the Silicon Valley of the people who were here during the 2000 crash, and there’s the Silicon Valley of the people who weren’t." »

Andrew Cuomo and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year

The phone is Andrew Cuomo’s instrument. Somehow distance brings out the governor’s full range of operatic inflections and rhetorical flourishes that he doesn’t deploy effectively in person. Today, on the phone, three weeks from Election Day, cruising toward a second term, he is in full Rodney Dangerfield mode.

“I passed gay marriage! I passed the toughest gun law in the country! I closed more prison cells than any governor in the history of the state! Minority job vouchers! My record of progressive accomplishment tops anyone!” Pause, dramatic reduction in volume. “Now, do you have some voices on the left that are impossible to placate in any realistic way? Yeah … Ask yourself: If he were more liberal, he would have done what? What more could I have possibly done? You’re gonna use the tax code just to take money from the rich and give it to the poor? That’s not liberalism. That’s confiscation! Liberalism was ‘Lift up the poor’ … The problem for liberals and progressives—of which I am proudly one—is you have to demonstrate you can actually do what you talk about. And that’s what I’ve been doing. My government works.”

“I fundamentally intend to continue doing what I’m doing.” »

Brooklyn Teacher Who Allegedly Had Sex With Students Also Dressed Up as a Teen Britney Spears for a School Dance

The New York Post has uncovered yet another gross thing about Sean Shaynak, the 44-year-old Brooklyn Technical High School teacher accused of sexually abusing six female students, among other things. In 2012, he attended Brooklyn Tech's Masquerade Ball dressed up as Britney Spears in her 1999 "...Baby One More Time" video — the one that takes place at a Catholic school — complete with a short kilt and an exposed belly. Shaynak also wore a French maid getup to the 2009 dance, where he (ugh) reportedly "flashed his rear end."

Here are the photos. »

Drunk Woman Picked the Wrong Place to Mistake for a Bar

A female resident of the delightfully named Paw Paw, Michigan area cut out the middleman this weekend, the Associated Press reports. According to the Van Buren County Police Department, the unnamed 39-year-old woman was so wasted at 2 a.m. on Sunday morning that she mistook the local jail for a bar where she was trying to retrieve her boyfriend. A cop who noticed her backing into the jail's parking lot found that "she smelled of alcohol and appeared intoxicated." Her blood alcohol level turned out to be .17 — more than twice the legal limit —  and she expected to face drunk-driving charges, making her the spiritual sister of the over-served Pennsylvania woman who tried to drive an unmarked police car with two cops inside this summer.

New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival Turns into Full-On Riot

How do you turn a quaint-sounding celebration of autumn into a full-on riot? Add some wasted young people. Keene, New Hampshire's annual Pumpkin Festival — which features a community-wide effort to "set a world record of the largest number of carved and lighted jack-o-lanterns in one place," according to CBS Boston — saw at least 14 arrests and dozens of injuries this weekend as hordes of Keene State College students and their guests took to the small town's streets for no apparent reason other than to cause trouble.

"Throwing bottles, uprooting street signs, and setting things on fire..." »



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